Comedy review: Matt Rees: Happy Hour, Pleasance Courtyard

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“Happy hour,” snorts Matt Rees midway through his show, “at the moment it’s neither”.

Matt Rees: Happy Hour, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) ***

And he’s not wrong, with his debut barely scraping to 40 minutes. Once a fixture in new act competition finals, his career was arrested by alcoholism.

And he’s clearly still feeling his way back. The Welshman’s droll, low-energy delivery didn’t engage the audience this afternoon. And, seemingly short of confidence, he couldn’t summon the wherewithal to sell many of his better lines, some of which would kill nearly a decade ago. There are some appealing stories here, with some smart twists that often didn’t receive their due.

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But Rees’ lack of development from a highly promising student comic is apparent in the frequency of his routines about pornography. Not a bad thing in itself, but hardly endearing him to the visibly uncomfortable in the crowd. Candid about his travails, he at least has plenty of examples of drunken misadventure to mine.

Despite claiming to have never hit rock bottom, comedically, his occasional stumbles over a punchline and miscalibrated timing can, hopefully, only sharpen up over the run.

• Until 26 August, 4:45pm